At ASI Wise, to avoid confusion, we use the term sensory integration and processing difficulties. Different terms are used in different places to describe sensory integration difficulties. Some therapists may use sensory processing difficulties instead. Some may even use sensory processing disorder.
We currently have a robust test, the SIPT, that allows us to describe sensory integration difficulties and reference research evidence to interpret the unique scores and pattern of scores that the child gets across 17 test items. We can use this data to inform our clinical reasoning, create a hypothesis about what sensory difficulties are contributing to participation challenges in everyday life. We set goals, plan and deliver the intervention, Ayres’ Sensory Integration Therapy measuring therapy outcomes. This is best practice.
“Active, individually tailored, sensory motor activities contextualised in play at the just right challenge, that targets adaptive responses for participation in activities and tasks.”
ESIC Schaaf 2019
Ayres’ Sensory Integration assessment and therapy is typically post-graduate education for Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Speech and Language Therapists. Please check that your therapist has ASI Education that meets level 2 education standards as recommended by ICEASI.
Sensory integration…the ability to organize sensory information for use…perception and synthesis of sensory data that enables man to interact effectively with the environment.’
Jean. A. Ayres (1972)
Ayres’ Sensory Integration combines theories and concepts from human development, current neuroscience, psychology with occupational science into a holistic framework through which we can consider a person’s development, learning and behavior.
Integrating sensory input is essential for development, it underpins learning and ensures we can participate in daily life, helping us to ;
make sense of and join together cues in the environment
‘do the right thing at the right time and in the ‘just right’ way’ – moving and using our bodies to get things done
be aware of what goes on within our own bodies;
know who we are – where we stop and start and where others begin
manage emotions and self -regulate
interact with others and the world around us – and safely
Here is a great resource to share with therapists, teachers, and families new to Ayres’ Sensory Integration to help explain Ayres’ SI in more detail.
Thank you to Ms Grieco and Ms Wooldridge for sharing this on YouTube
Just like a parent can decide a child has a cold and needs Calpol, a sensory rich home environment can help support development. However just like a child may need a Dr, Dentist or other specialist if they have a more serious illness, what some people need is specialist intervention.
Sensory Integration therapy requires years of training, first just to become a therapist and then the advanced training needed to accurately assess, develop a personalised intervention plan and then carry out the intervention. We might all know when tonsils need removing, but few of us would do it at home. Telling someone about how tonsils get removed or how sensory integration happens is very different to actually doing it, and doing it safely and so that the outcome is as expected. Sensory integration therapy is not just about swinging on a swing or bouncing on a ball – it is about so much more. And is definitely not about just about wearing headphones and having a bouncy cushion.
The superb article from AOTA’s CHOOSING WISELY programme – see link below – got me thinking. I get weekly emails from people offering to treat other people’s children without training, offering Sensory Profile assessments by mail from a questionnaire when they are not even a therapist.
Share this blog and have interesting discussions with clients, colleagues and line managers. As relevant here in UK and Ireland as in US. This really confirms what we teach in our modules and promote as an organisation; including the best standardised norm referenced tool currently at our disposal – the SIPT. No or limited assessment waters down efficacy. Standardised assessment (when possible) structured clinical observations and thorough clinical reasoning using a clear process are imperative. Data driven decision making.
ASI WISE was recently invited to deliver a presentation about Autism and sensory issues to a UK National Autistic Society meeting. Our presentations to the audience addressed the science and evidence behind autism and explored a families experience of sensory integration therapy.
Since the presentation we have had interesting conversations with some parents who attended. A common theme has been parents discovering that motor and praxis difficulties are part of sensory integration theory and therapy, and that ‘sensory’ in autism isn’t just about sensitivity.
Here is a great blog by an adult with autism who describes those sensory integration difficulties from visual scanning to actually doing.